Friday, December 19, 2008

Confessions of a Bookaholic

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward overcoming it. I say, admitting a problem is just admitting a problem. I may be a bookaholic, but I have no intentions of changing. I could deny it, but the weight of the evidence is greatly against me.
First of all, I have close to a thousand books in my library. I know, because I’ve counted them. In fact, when I moved the library to the basement, I catalogued them by title, author and price, because I wanted to know what kind of investment I’ve made. I know, it sounds a little OCD. :)
Secondly, yesterday, I purchased 37, yes, 37 books at once. I think that’s a record even for me. In my defense, it was a bankruptcy sale and they cost less than $3.00 each. They were books in the genre I read most; inspirational fiction, and I tell myself I would have bought them eventually, anyway, so why pay $15.00 for each one, when I could get them way cheaper? And most of it was purchased with Christmas money and I have to wrap them up and wait a whole week before I can put them on my shelf. But I’m practicing being patient.
Thirdly, I don’t feel bad about buying books, because I don’t buy them just to admire them on my shelf (although I do that, too). I actually read them. I read 75 books a year. In fact, I’m a chain-reader. Like a chain-smoker, but with no adverse health effects. If it looks like I’m coming to the final third of a book, I take another along with me. On the bus, if I finish it, I put it in my bag, take out the next one and keep reading.
Fourth, I’m very careful with my books. I don’t dog-ear them or splay them face down on a table. I use book marks. I’m hesitant to lend them out, but will on occasion, provided they are returned in good condition. If not, I may have trouble forgetting that.
My husband is an enabler. He buys me bookshelves, and takes me to bookstores for a date, because he knows it makes me happy. He knows that I have a socially acceptable addiction. I’m not an alcoholic or chocoholic. No one gets hurt.
Some women can’t walk past a shoe store without going in. I’m like that with bookstores. If I’m in the mall with my daughters and we’re passing a bookstore, I start veering towards it. They say, “Keep your eyes to the front, Mom. Don’t look. No. NOOOOO!” Too late.
I know exactly what’s on my shelves and where. I know who has borrowed a book. I know what books I still need to complete a series. I follow certain authors faithfully, and often pre-order their newest releases. I review every book I read. I read books cover to cover, literally. My kids say, “Mom, nobody reads the preface, acknowledgements and glossary.” Say hello to Nobody.
The most beautiful room in the country is the Parliamentary Library. You’ve got to see it to understand. In my dream house, I would have a scaled-down version of it. Conversely, my nightmare is to lose my books in a house fire. I would be inconsolable, since I’ve been collecting for half my life.
I’ve actually fallen on my face because I was crossing the street and reading at the same time. I tripped over the curb. It was a little embarrassing, and potentially life-threatening, since I wasn’t watching where I was going. I’ve missed my subway stop because there were “torpedoes in the water”. I’ve also turned down the wrong street when I was walking home from the bus, reading. When I got to where my house should be, I looked up and realized what I’d done. See what a good book can do to me?
My kids can’t have everything they want, but I never refuse them a book. I had very few books growing up and I guess I’m making up for it now. Whenever the Scholastic catalogue would arrive at school, I’d dream of buying books, but we couldn’t afford it. I guess I’m making up for it now. See, I have insight into my problem. That’s a start, right?
If you ever wonder what to get me as a gift, a Chapters gift card is safe. Erasmus said, “When I have money, I buy books. If there is any left over, I buy food and clothing.” And he lived in the early days of the printing press. How would he feel today?
My confession is done, and I’m no less a Bookaholic than when I started. But now you can say you know a Bookaholic.
Hello, my name is Pia and I’m a Bookaholic.

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